Bill de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr. on May 8, 1961 in New York City and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Shortly after graduating with a bachelor's degree from New York University in 1983, he legally changed his name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm, adding his mother's maiden name to his identity. In 2002 he changed his name for a second time and became Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio took his first job in 1984 with the NYC Department of Juvenile Justice. Three years later, having recently earned a master's degree at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, he was hired to work as a political organizer by the Quixote Center (QC), a Maryland-based, Catholic social-justice organization with Marxist leanings.
In 1988, de Blasio, an ardent supporter of the Marxist, Soviet-backed Sandinista government of Nicaragua, joined a number of his QC colleagues in a ten-day trip to that country to help distribute food and medicine to people who had been affected by the violent revolution that was raging there. (The Reagan administration, meanwhile, was giving financial and military aid to the Contras, who were seeking to overthrow the Sandinista regime.)
Upon returning home from Nicaragua, de Blasio began working for a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care in Central America. Continuing, moreover, to support the Sandinistas in whatever way he could, he joined the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, an organization that held meetings and fundraisers on their behalf. De Blasio also subscribed to the Sandinista party’s newspaper, Barricadda. He continues to speak admiringly of the Sandinistas to this day, lauding the “humble” and “really inspirational” blend of “youthful energy and idealism” that they brought to the task of “trying to figure out what would [make their society] work better.”
In 1989 de Blasio served as a volunteer coordinator for the NYC mayoral campaign of Democrat David Dinkins. Following Dinkins' victory, de Blasio became an aide in City Hall.
When asked in 1990 to describe his political views, de Blasio replied that he was an advocate of “democratic socialism.” In the mid-nineties, he served as executive director of the New York branch of the New Party, a pro-socialist, ACORN-affiliated entity to which Barack Obama likewise belonged.
In 1994 de Blasio managed New York Congressman Charles Rangel's re-election campaign. When de Blasio married former lesbian activist Chirlane McCray that same year, the couple honeymooned in Fidel Castro's Cuba, in violation of the U.S. ban on travel to that country.
In 1996 de Blasio ran the New York state operation for the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
In 1997 de Blasio was appointed as the New York/New Jersey regional director of the Clinton administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he served under HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
De Blasio left HUD in 1999 to become campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2000 U.S. Senate bid.
From 2001-09 de Blasio served on the New York City Council, representing District 39 in Brooklyn.
In 2002 de Blasio joined a number of fellow legislators—mostly from the City Council’s Black, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus—in a City Hall ceremony honoring Robert Mugabe, the openly anti-white, Marxist dictator of Zimbabwe.
In 2009 de Blasio was elected as New York City's third Public Advocate. His candidacy was supported by the SEIU, UNITE HERE!, and the Working Families Party.
In September 2009, when the community organization ACORN was engulfed in several major scandals involving voter-registration-fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and racketeering, de Blasio wrote a letter to ACORN's leaders reaffirming his support for the organization, though noting that he was “troubled” by the recent revelations.
De Blasio was a vocal opponent of the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which: (a) struck down a ban on corporations and labor unions using money from their general funds to produce and air campaign ads in races for congressional and presidential races, and (b) overturned a prohibition against corporations and unions airing campaign ads during the 30 days immediately preceding a primary or the 60 days preceding a general election.
In 2011 de Blasio expressed solidarity with the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street movement.
In January 2013 de Blasio announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York City. His campaign received endorsements from such notables as Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Jerrold Nadler, Barack Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Charles Schumer, Kathleen Turner, and many others. After de Blasio won the Democratic primary that September, it was announced that he would also be the nominee on the Working Families Party line in the general election.
Patrick Gaspard, a former New Party staffer and Obama administration official with significant ties to ACORN, is a close friend of de Blasio and played a key role in shaping the latter's mayoral campaign.
After de Blasio's primary victory in September 2013, longtime ACORN leader Bertha Lewis, who said that her political and ideological ties to de Blasio “go back a long time,” predicted a comeback for ACORN’s successor group in New York—New York Communities for Change—under a de Blasio administration. According to a Democratic insider, “ACORN’s long-range plan since 2001 was to elect de Blasio mayor. De Blasio was a big ACORN project.”
Today de Blasio describes himself as “progressive” whose political views represent a blend of European social democracy, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and liberation theology.
For an overview of de Blasio's views on a variety of key political and social issues, click here.